Travel

Travel Within the U.S.

A travel signature is not required if you are traveling within the U.S., but please make sure you have the following documents:

  • Passport (Valid for more than 6 months into the future)
  • Government issued ID (California ID or Driver’s license)

Travel Outside the U.S.

If you are planning to travel outside of the U.S. Please make sure you have the following documents when returning to the U.S.:

  • Passport (Valid for more than 6 months into the future)
  • A valid F-1 visa stamp (not required for Canadian and Bermudian)
  • A valid I-20 with a travel signature within 6 months when entering the U.S.
  • A copy of your I-901 fee

Please remember to check your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record every time you return the U.S. If you notice a mistake on your I-94 record, please contact the International Programs Office immediately.

Travel During OPT/STEM

Traveling while OPT is pending:

If your OPT has not been approved it is not recommended to travel internationally. This can be viewed as abandoning your pending application with USCIS and will cancel your application. But if you must travel, make sure you travel with the following documents:

  • Passport (valid for more than 6 months into the future)
  • Valid F-1 visa (not required for Canadian and Bermudian citizens)
  • A valid I-20 with travel signature within 6 months when entering the U.S.
  • I-797 receipt notice (confirmation receipt of your I-765)
  • Employment letter/offer letter (highly recommended)

Traveling while on OPT:

If your OPT has been approved (EAD card has been issued by USCIS) and you have a job or a job offer, you may leave and re-enter the U.S. in order to begin or resume employment. After USCIS has issued your EAD card. In order to have the best chance of re-entering the U.S. without problems, you should be sure you have the following documents:

  • Passport (valid for more than 6 months into the future)
  • Valid F-1 visa (not required for Canadian and Bermudian citizens)
  • A valid I-20 with travel signature within 6 months when entering the U.S.
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • Evidence that you already have a job in the U.S. or that you have a job offer.

Please remember that is will be upon CBP officer’s discretion if they will allow you to enter the U.S.

Forgot to Get a Travel Signature

If you realize that you need a new travel signature and you are outside the U.S., please follow these steps:

  1. Request a Travel Signature (Link)
  2. Pay for Courier Service to have your I-20 with updated travel signature shipped to your final destination. You can use University Express Mail Service to ship your I-20.

Once you have completed the Courier Service payment we will ship your I-20 to you. Please note that if you order for courier service after 1:00 PM (Pacific Time) your shipment will not go out until the following business day.

If there is not enough time before your flight to receive your I-20 with travel signature, you can choose to either change your flight date to allow time to receive your I-20. If that is not possible, you can choose to attempt to enter into U.S. without a valid travel signature, however, this is risky. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers may deny entry into the U.S. if:

  • Your passport is expiring in less than 6 months
  • You do not have a valid travel signature on your I-20
  • Your F-1 visa has expired
  • You have not paid the I-901 SEVIS Fee on your current I-20
  • Your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record is terminated, canceled, or completed

Rather than deny your entry to the U.S., the CBP officer has the discretion to issue you a Form I-515A. This document allows you to enter the U.S. and remain in the U.S. for 30 days. To remain in the U.S. beyond 30 days, and to maintain your F-1 status, you must submit required documents to CBP within 30 days of arriving in the U.S.  

If you receive a Form I-515A, you must do the following, immediately:

  1. Meet with an International Student Advisor the next business day after arriving in the U.S.
  2. Respond to the I-515A Notice with the help of an International Student Advisor
  3. Submit required documents to CBP within 30 days of your entry date

If you fail to complete any required actions or send all of the required documents to SEVP within 30 days of entering the U.S., your SEVIS record and I-20 may be terminated. If your SEVIS record and I-20 are terminated, you will be required to leave the United States immediately or file for reinstatement to F-1 status with USCIS, if you are eligible.